Sunday win could see Flyers crowned conference champions

Fife Flyers netminder David Brown celebrates his winning penalty shot save in Edinburgh last Sunday. Pic: Steve Gunn
Fife Flyers netminder David Brown celebrates his winning penalty shot save in Edinburgh last Sunday. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers could potentially win the Gardiner Conference in Manchester this weekend following the dramatic victory over Edinburgh Capitals on Sunday.

The nail-biting 5-4 penalty shots rsult at Murrayfield means that if Flyers win their final conference match away to Manchester Storm this Sunday, and Braehead Clan fail to win at Dundee Stars on the same night, Flyers will be crowned conference champions.

A large Fife crowd is expected to travel to the Silverblades Ice Rink in the hope of seeing their club claim its first trophy since joining the Elite League in 2011.

Should Flyers get the win they crave, they would face an anxious wait for news as the game in Dundee does not start until 6.30 p.m, an hour and a half after face-off in Manchester.

Flyers also travel to Sheffield Steelers on Saturday, and Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume is hopeful that his players can give their army of travelling fans a weekend to remember.

“We have got ourselves into a great place,” Dutiaume said, “but we need points from both of these games to not only claim a play-off spot, but give ourselves the possibility of fighting for this conference.

“It’s a huge weekend, and if we can get the support of the fans, and the guys rise to the occasion, then we can come back with four points.”

Flyers go into the weekend on the back of a 4-1 home defeat to Belfast Giants, a performance which gave Dutiaume cause for concern, and which ended a run of four successive wins.

“The positives are we’re 8 & 2 for our last 10 hockey games, not because we were lucky, but because came to the rink willing to put the work in,” Dutiaume said.

“Some results we deserved, others we ground out, but we found ways to win hockey games.

“That wasn’t the case on Tuesday night - and that’s a little bit disappoointing.

“We identified after the Edinburgh game that it would be a completley different pace but I’m not sure we were mentally prepared for it.

“We did not have a team that was at the races.

“Give Belfast credit, that’s maybe one of most solid performances we’ve seen in our building this year, but any time you are out shot four to one in your own building, and go one for seven on the powerplay, your’e going to struggle to win a hockey game.”

Danny Stewart has missed the last two matches with injury and Dutiaume hopes to have the influential player associate-coach back in the line-up for the crunch weekend.

“We really need to get Danny healthy and back into this line-up,” he said.

“In a game where we’re struggling you know we’ll get his effort and tenacity, and he’s going to find a way to make poeple accountable on the ice by leading by example.

“It helps me having him on the bench, and we can discuss a number of things.

“It’s not such a busy place when you’re splitting forwards and D, and he can be very vocal at times.

“But maybe more important right now is the on ice leadership we need out of him, where he can be the spark plug that holds guys accountable.”

While fans will eagerly anticipating super Sunday in Manchester, Dutiaume urged his players not to look past the trip to Sheffield on Saturday.

“It’s vital that you don’t switch it on and off for hockey games,” he said.

“Down the stretch you have to be able to string weekends together, and be at your best, or what’s the point?

“We need to be playing play off hockey right now, and Tuesday was far from it.”

Tommy Muir is a doubt for the weekend after missing the Belfast game in midweek with a bug.